QSFer Mickie B. Ashling has a new MM / intersex / bisexual fantasy book out: A Tangled Legacy.
Prince Colin of Sendorra would have been the spare instead of the heir if fate hadn’t intervened. Like his father and forefathers, Colin is expected to marry and father a child or his principality reverts to Spain at the time of his death. Filling the royal nursery with healthy babies seems easy enough until Princess Charlotte—his childhood friend and intended bride—breaks off their engagement.
Nobel Prize winner—and powerful gray witch—Alain de Gris isn’t looking for love. Science and research have taken center stage for years until he walks into a club and lays eyes on Colin, thirteen years his junior.
Bisexual by nature, Colin seeks to avoid another engagement repeat by shying away from a same-sex relationship. There are no acceptable alternatives to provide legitimate offspring if he follows his heart.
But Colin can’t stay away from Alain and the witch finds him irresistible. Ignoring the absolutes isn’t easy when a legacy is in jeopardy. And while magic may offer a solution, it could also create more problems.
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Hi all! Mickie B. Ashling here. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to stop by and share an exclusive excerpt of my newest release, A Tangled Legacy.The idea for this novel started after I finished the prequel, Once Upon A Mattress, which was included in the Once Upon A Rainbow Anthology, Volume I. It was my first foray into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, and I had so much fun I decided to write a longer piece. Although A Tangled Legacyis technically a sequel, I consider it to be a spinoff, and it can definitely be read as a standalone. The good news for those who are interested in reading the short story is that my wonderful publisher has decided to include it as bonus content if you purchase the paperback of A Tangled Legacy.
Meet Drake. Colin’s first cousin is the newly-hired magical tutor and starts off on the wrong foot. Colin’s POV.
We were quiet the rest of the way home, and my peace of mind, unsettled by our conversation, received another blow when I set eyes on Drake for the first time. He was sitting with Granny on a sofa and stood the minute Alain and I walked in. We looked alike, but his thinly disguised arrogance rubbed me the wrong way. If Drake expected me to grovel in gratitude because he agreed to become my tutor, he had to work on his body language. I was getting the wrong impression and so was Alain.
It didn’t take a clairvoyant to see they hated each other at first sight. Dominant personalities locked eyes and silently challenged like territorial beasts. The atmosphere was thick with tension, and currents of magnetic power, ever-present in Alain, crackled and swirled around Drake in equal measure. I had to wonder if Granny might be right for once. My cousin appeared to be a powerful andcompetent witch. He’d have no qualms teaching me what I needed to know, providing we could get past this meeting.
Putting on my most diplomatic face, I greeted him warmly. “Welcome, Drake.”
“Thank you. I hear you’re in need of a teacher.”
“Yes he is,” Granny agreed, taking me by the hand and leading me to the sofa. She and Drake sat on either side of me while Alain had no choice but to take the opposite seat.
Remembering my manners, I introduced the two men who were still glaring at each other. “Drake, this is my friend, Alain de Gris.”
He nodded but didn’t rise or extend a hand.
Alain stood and offered a hand in greeting. “My pleasure.”
“Is it?” Drake asked with a cock to his head.
Alain scowled and withdrew. He motioned for the door. “May I talk to you in private?”
“Now?” Granny asked. “You men just arrived. Surely it can wait.”
“No,” Alain said decisively. “It can’t.”
I followed him, and he whirled on me the minute we were out of earshot.
“Get rid of him.”
“I don’t think I can,” I said, taken aback by his vehemence. “What’s the problem?”
“He has some twisted agenda, and I won’t rest easy until I figure out what he’s about.”
“Maybe you’re just jealous.”
“Don’t insult me, Colin. I’m only trying to protect you.”
“I have to go through the motions for Granny’s sake. She would raise holy hell if I did otherwise.”
“You know where to find me.”
“Don’t go, Alain.”
“I’m not sticking around to watch this train wreck. Call or text if you come to your senses.”
I didn’t try to stop him since I knew it would be futile. Once Alain made up his mind, he wasn’t going to budge unless it was life-threatening, and I couldn’t lump instant dislike into that category. Shrugging, I returned to the great room, hoping to learn more about my cousin.
He seemed a lot more amiable now that Alain was no longer present, and we spent a few hours finding some middle ground that didn’t involve jealous boyfriends or magic. It was presumptuous on my part to call Alain my boyfriend, but we were seeing each other exclusively, and that qualified as a relationship of sorts. It might be more wishful thinking than fact, but boyfriend sounded way better than friend or lover. It carried more weight, to my way of thinking, and might keep Drake from badmouthing him. Not that he’d tried, but I knew Granny wasn’t a fan of Alain’s, and there was no telling what had transpired between her and my cousin while she was in Paris. My thoughts were all over the place, and Drake broke into my internal monologue.
“I’m straight,” he announced, a useless piece of information, since I had no intention of cheating with him. Maybe he hoped I’d pass it along so Alain’s hostility would ebb. Not a chance.
Aside from our physical similarities, I learned that Drake and I had little in common. Raised by a single mother who worked as a chocolatier in Bruges, Belgium, he was fluent in four languages—Flemish, Dutch, French, and English—and used to fending for himself. His primary and secondary education were unremarkable, but living on a tight budget had fueled his need for a better life. Street smarts accounted for much of his resilience, and the magic in his blood added the extra element he needed to pursue higher education in Antwerp. After getting his bachelor’s in Applied Economics, Drake had been working as assistant manager in a five-star hotel in Brussels. It would explain why he was so comfortable with strangers and new situations.
“Are you hoping to become general manager one day?” I asked after he finished briefing me on his background.
“Unless something better comes along.”
“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Who doesn’t dream of winning the lottery or marrying an heiress to have a better life?”
I slipped through a break in the eight-foot hedge that separated my granny’s rose garden from our garage. It was the same gap I used whenever I snuck out of the palace. Familiar with the prickly branches, I knew how to get through without a tear or a scratch. My bodyguards would be frantic the minute they realized I was missing, but the chance to sample nightlife as an ordinary man instead of a prince was too tempting.
Saddled at birth by a title I didn’t deserve, I’d spent all my life trying to convince everyone, myself included, that I had a right to exist. It wasn’t my fault that my twin, older by five minutes and thus the legitimate heir apparent, had been stillborn. Survivor’s guilt weighed heavily on my psyche, although it was pure chance that he died and I didn’t.
More than likely, the problem had lain with my method of conception. That story was glorified in the annals of our nation’s history. Male pregnancy had been risky from the word go, and no one knew this better than the man who gave me life, my father’s consort, Errol, the Duke of Maitland. He was a commoner who’d received the title after he married my other father, Prince Sebastian, who was heir apparent at the time. They’d been delighted to welcome me into the world, but it had been bittersweet after they were informed that my brother hadn’t made it.
Nonetheless, I was loved and pampered from the moment I first opened my eyes. Everyone doted on me, and I had a wonderful, albeit lonely, childhood. Once in a rare while, someone heartless would point out that I was the spare who’d usurped his brother’s title, but the incidents were few and far enough apart to be ignored.
Of course, no one bothered to ask me how I felt about having two dads and no mother. Not that they were bad parents—far better than most, or so I’d been told—and my granny, the Dowager Princess Alexandra, and her ladies-in-waiting provided all the feminine influence I could possibly need, but that didn’t stop me from wondering if I’d be a different person had I been created conventionally.
As things stood, I was determined to cram as many life experiences as possible before assuming the throne. Hopefully, my father, the current ruler, would live well into his seventies so I could achieve my goals. Since my twin was watching me from somewhere beyond these earthly boundaries, I wanted him to take comfort knowing I was doing a fine job with the role I’d unintentionally usurped.
My red Beemer purred to life, and I inched my way out of the garage, hoping no one would hear the engine. Most of the staff had already gone for the day. It was late, way past dinner, and the odds of being stopped were slim. Thankfully, my exit was uneventful.
I drove slowly until I hit the open road and gassed the engine when the palace faded from view. Dancing was on my mind, and the songs blaring from my radio helped to put me in the right mood. Since I had succeeded in a clean getaway, I decided on something different tonight. There was a new club in town—one that catered to a sexually fluid crowd—and this would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.
My interest in exploring my gay side wasn’t something new. I’d been attracted to both sexes growing up but had chosen my childhood friend, Princess Charlotte of Navarre, for my future bride. My fathers had been delighted, but they warned me things might change. A first crush seldom worked out, they’d cautioned, but I was determined to make it work, and thus avoid the complications that might arise from a same-sex union. Rather than risk another man’s life, or that of my unborn child, I would go the conventional route and marry a woman. Charlotte was the perfect choice, until she wasn’t.
My best friend, the sweet girl who’d promised to be my forever love, no longer held my interest, nor I hers. Our recent breakup—remarkably amicable thanks to multiple shots of vodka—signaled the end of childhood dreams and aspirations. And now, I was single again, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Until I turned twenty-one. Then the invisible clock would start ticking, and pressure to marry and begin a family would escalate.
At the club entrance, I scanned my surroundings. Across the mass of heaving bodies, someone caught my eye. The stranger’s dark hair was combed back, probably tied in a low tail, but I couldn’t say for sure. He was surrounded by people but ignored the crowd after our eyes locked. Even from a distance, the tingling in my groin led me to believe we’d be a good fit.
My royal status precluded random pairings as the inevitable fallout would be disastrous in more ways than I could count; however, the intensity in the brunet’s gaze was pushing me to break a few of my own rules tonight.
I was wearing a tight navy-blue sweater to complement my eyes, and a pair of skinny jeans. The sweater’s fabric stuck to me like a second skin, the perfect showcase for hard-earned shoulder and arm muscles. My blond hair was chin length, and I normally tucked it behind my ears. Even though I’d been told many times that it needed to be at least two inches shorter, I resisted because it was one of the few things in my regimented life I could control.
As next in line to the throne, I’d been brought up with a strict code of conduct, and I did my best to adhere to tradition. But with my formative years behind me, there was less room for mistakes. Eyes were on me twenty-four seven, and slipping through the proverbial cracks was always a thrill. My energy was on high alert tonight.
Although I had Prince Sebastian’s fair coloring, I was built more like my other father, Errol. My wide shoulders, narrow waist, and muscular thighs combined with my height—six two on bare feet—were imposing, especially in formal attire. My facial hair was more a heavy scruff than a beard, but it was a disguise I’d adopted after my sixteenth birthday. Some know-it-all mentioned I was too young to be in such a position of power. The beard seemed to have the desired effect, adding the necessary years and a certain flair that drew men and women in equal measure.
My stranger disappeared from the dance floor, and I headed toward the rear of the club. There was a room, where one could presumably get more intimate, and I glanced around, hoping to spot him. He seemed to have vanished. Irritated that he’d eluded me, I went back to the main area and ordered a beer and a shot. Killing time until someone else caught my eye, I ordered another one-and-one after inhaling the first, and one more after that. The sudden buzz didn’t do much to improve my mood. I’d been looking forward to a few hours of mindless fun, and sex had been high on my list.
I cleared my tab with cash to stay incognito and decided to make one more attempt to find the brunet. As soon as I entered the dark room, I felt the man’s presence. He was leaning against a wall, staring at me with purpose. We met halfway, and I was hypnotized by catlike eyes, an interesting mix of browns and greens. The chemistry between us was sending shock waves directly to my groin. I didn’t want to appear inexperienced, but I hadn’t been with a guy in a long time, and I was nervous. It took a boatload of willpower to keep up my cool façade.
Finally, the stranger broke the silence. “Are you alone?”
Circling my waist with strong arms, he dragged me against his body. We were the same height, and as our mouths got closer, so did our hips, but I avoided his kiss. I wasn’t ready for that yet and hoped he’d get the message. Without faltering, my hookup deftly moved to my neck and slowly licked his way up to the outer shell of my ear, whispering dirty nothings along the way. I could feel the barriers crumbling as my need took over, and the next time he tried to kiss me, I let him.
His lips were surprisingly soft, but stubble against stubble was a sensation I’d never felt before. Gradually, I responded to his questing tongue and let his strong hands clutch my ass cheeks and drag me against his growing erection. The jolt of desire made him reckless.
“Can we get out of here?” I asked hopefully.
“You bet,” my mystery man answered. He held my hand and led me toward the exit. A few seconds before we’d made a clean getaway, I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. David, the royal event planner, and his partner, Sam, stood in our way.
“What are you doing here?” David asked, ignoring the guy beside me.
I was surprised to see him and went on the defensive. “None of your damn business.”
David was visibly shocked by my combative attitude but stood his ground. “You’ll be sorry in the morning.”
“Take your hands off him,” the stranger snarled. “He’s with me.”
“Look,” David said, trying a more amicable approach. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with, and he’s obviously had too much to drink.”
“He gave me a clear message, and I’m acting on it.”
Sam and David sandwiched me and headed toward the exit. My hookup was probably fuming, but our connection had been broken, and I couldn’t find the energy to put up a fight. David got behind the wheel of the car, and Sam sat in the back seat beside me.
After a few mild protests, I slumped against Sam and drifted off…
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.
Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings.